April 2018 Blog on Preserving Brain Health

Hi Everyone…….I recently read an article in the AARP monthly newsletter that arrives every month in my mailbox.  As we all know, there are many ideas floating around out there which talk about how to preserver our memory.  There are many charlatans as well as bona fide experts in the field of dementia who are eagerly telling all of us what is best.  Certainly, the Blue Zone diet and information has substance.  The Longevity Study at Banner is indicating that those who are living longest stay socially connected.  But what about all those warnings that have been floating around for years?  Are you still cooking with aluminum pans?  Are you still using deodorants which contain aluminum?  Do you use ginseng?  Are you overdosing on your crossword puzzles and other word games?  Well, in the December issue of the AARP magazine, they addressed these concerns.  Here is a synopsis of what they said:

  1. Aluminum in pots, pans, cans and anti-perspirant:  I think that was the first thing I remember from what “experts” thought might be causing AD, because this element is found in the neurons of people who had AD.  However, it is the 3rd most common element in the earth’s crust, and “the small amount that you get from cookware and antiperspirants is not likely to increase your risk.”
  2. Ginseng:  I remember the arrival of ginseng in our daily vocabulary.  It was thought that if we used it in our tea or in supplement form that it would boost our brainpower.  However, researchers have not been able to corroborate that.  Plus, it actually interferes with other prescription drugs like those for diabetes, for blood thinning and depression.  In addition, it can cause sleep problems, headaches, and digestion issues.
  3. Brain games:  We all have our favorite word or number (Sudoku) games.  I always felt guilty that I wasn’t doing the NYT crossword puzzles.  After all, I was an English major in my undergraduate years!  But, I have no patience with them.  I do like those games where you have to find a word which may be written backwards, diagonally, or upside down!  Now researchers are saying that these games are good for making you more proficient at those games not for increasing brainpower.  Well, surprise.  What does help is taking a class, “designing a quilt, working with technology, or researching your geneology.”  The idea is doing something that is not rote and also engaging with others.  Listening to music is also on the good list.

So, stay connected and take care of yourself as well as your loved one…….Happy April…..Regina